nineteenth century

Posted by Ellen

Minna Canth, a popular Finnish playwright and unpopular radical activist, took up the pen in 1879, after her husband died, leaving her with seven children to support and raise.

She took over her father's fabric shop in Kuopio, about 250 miles north of Helsinki, and somehow found the time to write a play about a woman whose alcholic husband ran through all her money, leaving the family destitute. Laws needed changing, the drama clearly suggested, to give wives some control over family finances. The play was performed only once, after which the theater company was warned that it was about to lose its state grant of support.

Canth's next play, "Lopo the Peddler," was about an impoverished woman who tended toward petty thievery and alcoholism but who nonetheless had a heart of gold.

Over the years, she wrote about working-class suffering, unwed pregnancy and infanticide, religious hypocrisy, and many other social-realist themes. Her home became something of a salon for visiting intellectuals from Finland and beyond. She was among the first Finnish authors to publish her work in Finnish instead of Swedish, the traditional literary language.

Finnish students today read her work in school, and her plays are still performed in Finnish theaters. 

And she did get the laws changed so that married women could have money of their own.

Posted by Ellen

If you believe the banners in this ca. 1885 chromolithograph,  the Standard Tip T.M. Harris & Co. boot comes with a double toe that is not only warranted and trade mark registered but also highest grade sole leather tip. It's not clear what the people frolicking in the ad have to do with double standard tip shoes, and it's not clear what a registered trade mark has to do with warranted highest quality, but what else is new. As my grandmother used to say: You believe that one and they'll tell you a bigger one.

The shoe factory in the background was a building on Cherry Street in Philadelphia that was originally built for manufacturing chandeliers.